Random Hair Products Review

Here’s a quick run-down of some non-DevaCurl products I have liked in the past (pre-perm) and still love now. No pics this time as I’ve been too busy getting ready for the school year, but there are links included so you can check these products out.

KMS Hair Play Dry Wax

My “holy grail” styling product if one exists. I’ve been using this for years as my finishing spray; I do not like hair sprays but I want something to help hold my style, and this has been my go-to for a long time. I started using it when my hair was still short, and it helped keep my layers nice and spiky without making it stiff. As it grew, I tried other finishing sprays, but always came back to this one. When my hair was to my shoulders and straight, I could spray this through while fluffing it with my fingers and it added lift while also keeping the flyaways at bay. After my perm, I tried other hairpsrays and finishers concocted, supposedly, for curly hair, but I’ve come back to this again and find it is still the perfect finisher. It’s the only product I use right now that has silicones and sulfates and all that stuff that’s supposed to be bad for my hair, but I can’t help it – it gives me the perfect amount of hold while also helping my curls stay defined as well as touchable. And again – it worked this way for me when my hair was straight too, as well as when I wore it short. I keep three bottles of this on-hand at all times, so I am never without it.

PHYTO Phytolisse Mask 6.7 fl oz

After the disaster that was DevaCurl’s Heaven in Hair, I appreciated the fact that this deep conditioner specifically instructed the user to rinse it out immediately after applying it. I sure learned the hard way that this can be quite necessary when using such a product, so that’s exactly what I did. Doing so made it hard for me to tell by feel if the product did anything or not, but I did notice my hair looked very bouncy the next day, and less dry. So overall I’d say it’s a win, and will use this about once a week until it disappoints me or I find something I like better. I chose this mask because it didn’t have sulfates or silicones, and I want to stick to that as much as I can. I don’t like that it comes in a little pot you have to stick your fingers in while in the shower, because that’s a pretty messy proposition, but the HIH was that way also, so it could have something to do with both products being very thick and not able to squeeze out of a bottle easily.

Living Proof No Frizz Leave-in Conditioner, 4-Ounce

This is a nice leave-in conditioner that helps combat frizz and gives my hair the extra moisture it needs, and it’s sulfate- and silicone-free. It’s very light and a little goes a long way. I was hoping to find a leave-in that was protein-free since I was told protein can be drying, but it turns out it’s quite a common ingredient in leave-in conditioners, and the only protein-free ones I could find have sulfates and parabens and other things I’m trying to avoid. Sigh. My plan was to use this some days, and other days just put a little extra One Condition into my wet hair as a leave-in; most days I’ve gone with the One Condition and left this alone since I have decided to use DevaCurl’s B-Leave-In strengthener every day and that already adds protein. I did like it the few times I used it, though, and will keep the bottle on-hand for whenever I feel I need a little boost. But keep in mind there’s protein in this one if you’re sensitive to that.

Garnier Fructis Wonder Waves Wave-Enhancing Spray

This is a very nice spray gel that you can get for around eight bucks (they call it a hairspray but it feels much more like a watered-down hair gel to me, and is made to be used on wet hair). It’s not as easy to find in grocery stores as it used to be, but Amazon still carries it. It’s very light. I spray this onto damp hair right before blow-drying, and it does a great job holding the curl. Currently I am using the DevaCurl Spray Gel as I think it has a little bit better hold, but if I had to go back to this one I’d have no problems with it. Doesn’t follow the sulfate-free philosophy though, so that’s another reason I’m not using it anymore. But it’s a great, cheap spray gel that does the job.

Redken Curvaceous Wind Up Re-Activiating Spray

Ditto for this one. I’ve used it in the past, and it does the job nicely. Smells better than the Garnier Wonder Waves, but also has sulfates and all that jazz. Doesn’t cost quite as much as the DevaCurl gel, so it’s a decent mid-range spray-gel option.

Moroccan Oil Treatment

A very nice serum I’ve used off and on for years. The Moroccan Oil line has some excellent products that feel VERY luxurious and can help repair damaged hair; this oil works nicely on my dry, frizzy ends and just the tiniest dab is all I need. The shampoo and conditioner are especially nice, but I don’t think they are silicone-free; I tried to research this but got conflicting reports, so correct me if I’m wrong about that. The oil is quite expensive for a little bottle, but you literally just need a dab of it at a time.  A good serum to have on-hand when the hair looks dry. I like to use it when my hair is wet but in a pinch, I can rub some on dry ends and it helps.



DevaCurl Products Review: Part Two

Heeeere we go: Part Two of my Great DevaCurl Product Experiment (part one is here)! I know you’ve been dying to read about more crap I’ve put on my hair in the last month. Let’s get to it.

It’s called “No-Poo” and I took a picture of it near Sprocket’s butt. Get it? ‘Cause I’m really twelve years old.

DevaCurl  No-Poo Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser – 5 stars

Love this stuff. I must mention again that when my hair was un-permed and had just the slightest wave, I hated using this shampoo. But now that I am permed it’s working great to cleanse my hair, and the no-lather formula doesn’t feel unpleasant when working it through my hair at all. In fact, regular shampoos feel unpleasant now when I use them, as I can feel them creating tangles and snarls. This cleanser slips nicely through my fingers and my hair, and leaves my hair feeling clean without feeling stripped of its natural oils. My un-permed hair was so baby-fine that I think I just could not handle that feeling, with its tendency to be greasy, using No-Poo just made it feel even greasier. But I definitely need all the moisture I can get right now, and according to the Curly Girl philosophy so do people with natural curls. It’s really interesting to experience using it both ways and being able to feel how differently curly hair reacts to it as opposed to straight hair. Unless what I’m feeling is just the reaction of chemically damaged hair, but either way, it’s working. My hair feels clean and looks great using this – I’ve been “no-poo” for two weeks so far and have experienced nothing but good results.


DevaCurl One Condition Conditioner – 5 stars

This is the conditioner I use after washing my hair with the No-Poo Cleanser. It’s lovely. It’s much silkier than other conditioners I’ve used, quite honestly, and it follows the Curly Girl method of using no sulfates, parabens, or silicone, and I’m trying to be as faithful to the process as possible, so I’m happy with it. Lots of people use a bit of it on wet hair as a leave-in conditioner, and after my experience with DevaCurl’s “deep conditioning” product I started doing the same, since I trust this one. It also helped my hair recover from that horrid experience, so it gets another star for saving my locks when the Heaven in Hair fried it out (you’ll read about that below). It has a wonderful, thick and smooth consistency and really does feel delicious in my palm as well as in my hair. I’ll need to invest in the huge bottle of this stuff soon.


DevaCurl  B’Leave-In – 4 stars

I was a bit confused by this product, as the title suggests it’s a leave-in conditioner, which is something I really wanted (then again, the product DevaCurl labels as a deep conditioner was anything but, so perhaps there’s a trend here?), but recently I’ve discovered it’s not actually a conditioner as much as a strengthener with protein in it, which as one of my blog readers, Alma, pointed out, can be drying to hair. People still like the product and the effects of using it, though, which they say are primarily strengthening and adding definition to curls, but at first I was so disappointed it didn’t do what I thought it did that I didn’t give it a chance. Ultimately, I did notice nice curl formation when using this, and it works well with the Volumizing Foam to give me bounce and definition, so it’s a good product to keep on hand and pair with the Foam.  I’d just recommend DevaCurl change the name so people don’t think they’re moisturizing their hair with this, when the may in fact be drying it a little.


DevaCare ArcAnGEL Gel – 4 Stars

This smells lovely, kind of like orange juice. On wet hair it dries slowly, and with not as much hold as the Volumizing Foam. I woke up to super-bouncy curls, and my hair looked nice right away, so I wet it down and added a little foam for styling.  The end result was fine, but I still prefer the Foam for my primary styling tool right out of the shower. It’s got a nice hold and gave my hair a LOT of bounce, just not quite as much hold and definition as the Foam. It definitely has a stronger hold than the Spray Gel though, so I can see why it’s so popular – my hair was bouncy and curly even after sleeping on it. Definitely springier than when I sleep on the foam, but the curls were a bit lighter and not as defined. By the way – it’s called DevaCARE because this is DevaCurl’s rather limited line of products for color-treated hair.


DevaCurl No-Poo Quick Cleanser – 3 stars

I have used regular dry shampoos before, when my hair was straight, and I find them drying due to the talc (hence the name, right?), which mostly just adds static to my hair. This one does not feel chalky or talc-y like other dry shampoos I’ve tried; it actually feels moisturizing, which is nice since my hair has a tendency to be dry already (notice it’s not called a “dry shampoo”). I sprayed this into second-day hair and it actually added some bounce and shine right away. I’m still too in the habit of washing my hair every day to get much use of it, so we’ll see if this ends up being a part of regular routine for me. I like how it works to revitalize curls without drying them out when I do give it a go, so it might also be a good product to revive hair throughout the day, too.


DevaCurl Styling Cream – 2 Stars

Feels silky but when emulsified it gets tacky and sticky. Not necessarily a bad thing; reminds me of Tigi’s Curls Rock, which had killer hold for curls but felt like glue in the hands. Feels heavier than the Foam but that’s not surprising. When I put it on wet hair, it made it way too puffy, and it didn’t have the hold I need so my curls were too soft without definition.  I ended up re-wetting my hair and adding Volumizing Foam, then air-drying, and my hair looked much better, but after an hour or so my hair got big and puffy again, so this one is a no-go for me. Still a nice cream though, and I can see why people like it if they need volume and moisture more than hold and definition. A lot of people really like this stuff, so I hate to rate it so low, but it was not a good one for me so I gotta be honest about that.


DevaCurl Heaven In Hair Deep Conditioner – negative stars

Oh dear. This one’s gonna be a little long, because this item has the dubious honor of being the first hair product to make me question my sanity. Allow me to explain.

I checked it out because of a positive YouTube review I saw, then bought it when I saw all the raves on Amazon.com. However, it turns out this is one of those items that inspires polar opposite, love/hate responses among users. Unfortunately, before buying it I only stumbled across the “love” ones. I put this stuff in my hair when it was wet and followed the instructions, which were to leave it on damp hair for 30 minutes and rinse – easy enough. It felt OK when applying it, but even from the start it didn’t feel as moisturizing as I expected. By the time I rinsed it out, it had gone crunchy. Then – I tried to run my fingers through my hair. I was confused. Why did my hair feel like straw? I got a comb, and tried to run that through my hair. Why was it all so tangled? I doused it with the De-Tangling Spray I’d recently decided was useless. Still useless. I grabbed a brush. I began to question my knowledge of my own hair – has it always been this hard to comb and I never noticed before? I ran to Google and typed in “heaven in hair made it dry” – and THEN I saw the flip side to all the rave reviews I’d read before purchasing the product.  It’s even been dubbed “Hell in Hair” by many a disappointed customer. People said it made chunks of their hair fall out. That it took weeks to recover from one application. That the best you could do was immediately run back to the shower and dump gallons of regular conditioner on your hair in the hopes it would recover.

Being me, I decided to go ahead and see it through the end. I added Volumizing Foam as I would normally do, then waited until my hair was almost dry and ran over it with a blow-dryer. And what I got was a frizzy mess. I could run my fingers through it, at least, but to prove my point, I of course have photographic evidence:

Pic on the left was taken right before shampooing and using the HIH; pic on the right was taken after using HIH and letting my hair air-dry, then styling it EXACTLY as I had styled the left side. Seriously.

It was 11 PM by this time, but I decided it was best to run right back to the shower and re-moisturize with normal conditioner to see if that would help. I dumped a ton of One Conditioner on it first, let it set for about five minutes, then cleansed with the No-Poo cleanser. Then I dumped more One Conditioner on it and let it set again. I rinsed it out with cold water to seal the cuticle, then for added measure ran a little more One through my wet hair and left it in. Fortunately, I was then able to run my comb through it and it felt more normal. I put more Volumizing Foam in it and let it air dry. It was still a little wet when I went to bed, but in the morning it looked normal, if still a touch dry.

Heaven in Hair is also the first product to make me afraid of trying any other new ones; if I hadn’t already spent money on a few other things it might have ended this entire section of my blog. Hands-down – THE WORST product I have EVER put on my hair. And yet, some people swear by it, so there you go. I will say that most people who love it claim they don’t put much of it on their hair, and they apply heat to it to help activate it. I glopped a ton of it on, and did not apply any heat, so perhaps doing those two things would have netted better results. But in my defense, the instructions said nothing about applying it sparingly, and they said adding heat was optional. So if those two things are needed to make this work instead of turning one’s hair into a tumbleweed, that needs to be addressed.

Photo of Simon posing with DevaCurl’s Shine Spray, which I already reviewed in my previous post but accidentally photographed, thinking I’d not reviewed it yet. 

That’s about it for my review of DevaCurl’s line, but I do have some non-Deva products I like that I’ll review at another time. And how about a round of applause for the cutest product photos ever? I’d like to thank my models, Sprocket and Simon, for being good sports about it. Penny, as usual, declined to participate.

*Everything I review in this post was purchased with my own money, and no one requested I write about these items. I never review products that are given to me for free – mostly because no one ever offers, but even if they did I wouldn’t do it. Just so you know. 

Sulfate-Free Hair Products: DevaCurl

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve tried out a ton of products targeted for curly hair since getting my perm a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d share here what I’ve tried, and what I liked or disliked about them. It’s not the most thrilling subject in the world, so I’m going to keep my comments about each product brief.

Keep in mind that any of this stuff could be used on whatever type of hair you have; just because it says it’s for curly hair doesn’t mean a person with straight hair couldn’t use it. The line I’m going to discuss in this post, DevaCurl, consists of all sulfate-, silicone- and paraben-free products, and the website also highlights its use of botanical extracts (even though the list of ingredients on the bottles still reads like a lab experiment -but some of the first ingredients listed are things like beeswax, soy, or olive oil). So even though none of this stuff is cheap, it might still be up your alley no matter what type of hair you have.

Also keep in mind that I didn’t try out anything but styling products for this post – I purchased some rather expensive shampoo and conditioner at the salon when I got the perm, so I didn’t try DevaCurl’s “Low-Poo” or “No-Poo” cleansers and conditioners, which claim to be the first sulfate-free (and therefore lather-free) shampoos on the market (although there are others out there now). I did try them years ago, both the No-Poo and Low-Poo offerings, and honestly I could never get into them, but that was when my hair was un-permed and basically straight, and I felt the no-poo method left my hair looking greasy and limp. As a side note, I’ve been following the no-poo method the past week, and am getting terrific results out of it so far now that my hair is permed – but I’ve written about that in a different post. And I just bought the low-poo and no-poo cleansers to try out (along with a few other products I hadn’t yet tested), but haven’t used them enough to write about them yet, so stay tuned for more about those.

Aside from wanting to try these out for the botanical aspects and lack of certain chemicals, you may love the smell of these products as much as I do. However, I’ve noticed when reading reviews of these items that not everyone loves the scents, so that may be a love-it-or-hate-it aspect of them.  Personally I think they smell nice, with one exception, but it was a product I hated overall so it didn’t matter too much. But keep in mind that fragrance-free these products are not. Moving on.

Gotta Love It – Five Stars

Deva-Curl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam  


This is DevaCurl’s version of a mousse. I put it in my towel-dried hair and let it air dry at night. While I don’t think it performs all that differently from any other mousse I’ve ever tried (yes, if you put it in wet hair and let it air-dry without touching it, it will dry “crunchy,” but that’s part of what helps reduce frizz, and I can use my diffuser and a few other products to de-crunch it a bit) I love the consistency of the product and the smell is fantastic. It’s more of a liquid-y foam than a true mousse, and it feels silky and downright luxurious when pumped into my hands. And did I mention the scent? It smells like lemon candy, which I just love. Even though it’s not anything earth-shattering, this is the favorite of everything I’ve tried so far.

Pretty Good – Four Stars

DevaCurl Spray Gel


It’s a spray gel, which has always been a part of my hair styling routine. Mousse at night after the hair is towel-dried, then re-wet in the morning and apply some spray gel before drying. I’ve used many different kinds of spray gels over the years; they’re all basically hair gel thinned out with water so it can be dispensed through a spray nozzle, and they all work about the same way. But I do notice this one is a touch lighter than some of my other standbys I’ll discuss in an upcoming post. It’s easy to apply, and it adds the extra hold my hair needs to get through the day without allowing my curls to droop or fall, so I’ll give it the four star treatment even though it’s not doing anything unusual. And it’s got that whole sulfate-, paraben-, and silicone-free thing going for it, so there’s that. A bit of a medicinal smell to this one, but it’s not strong and doesn’t linger.


It’ll Do – Three Stars

DevaCurl  Mist-er Right


This product is…interesting. Way back in 2004 when Lorraine Massey, who owns the DevaCurl line, first published the book “Curly Girl,” which landed her on the hair styling map, one of the things she recommended for women with curly hair was this homemade solution of water and lavender oil to spritz onto hair and re-vitalize curls throughout the day. I remember making my own batches of it back in the day, and while I never felt like it did anything magical to my hair (again, part of the problem was I was trying to use her methods to make my non-permed hair transform into springy curls, which was never going to happen) it didn’t hurt it to spray some on every now and then, and it sure smelled heavenly. I’d say pretty much the same thing about this version. It doesn’t hurt to spray it on my hair, but it doesn’t help either. It certainly doesn’t help combat frizz or give my curls extra definition if I start to get too fluffy throughout the day.  A little spray bottle filled with plain old water would probably work better, actually, but then my hair wouldn’t smell like lavender. My husband loves the way this smells, and it does feel like a nice little luxury to me, something to refresh the hair if you’re out and about and feeling like you need a little pick-me-up. But that’s about all it does, at least for me. It’s actually the most-used product I’ve tried aside from the mousse and the gel, so even though it’s quite possibly a ridiculous product, it still gets three stars.

Deva-Curl Set It Free Moisture Lock Spray


I’m on the fence about moving this one too – I still don’t see much frizz reduction with this or added shine, but it’s not horrible and actually has some uses for me. So far, I’ve found it works best to spray a few pumps into my hand and rub it through my hair when it’s looking a little too “crunchy” from the mousse, gel, and/or spray wax I use for final hold; this will add a little moisture and softness. With my baby-fine hair, generally too much of such a product will turn my curls to mush and make me look like a puffball, so I do use this product sparingly. This is another one I dumped into a little spray bottle to carry around in my purse for use throughout the day if I see fit, and as a big plus this one has the awesome lemon candy scent of the Volumizing Foam,  so it gets an extra star for smelling delicious. Some of these products may become more useful as my hair adjusts to the no-poo routine I’ve only been on a few days now; we’ll have to see about that. But right now, it’s not performing any miracles.

I’ll Probably Pass – Two Stars

DevaCurl Shine Spray


I bought this to try as a finishing spray, but it had zero hold for me and left my hair looking a little limp. The only product I’ve ever liked using for hold as a finisher is a spray wax, and I’ll discuss my favorite in a later post as it isn’t a DevaCurl product. I did notice, however, that this can be useful if my hair is looking a little too dry; I can spray a bit into the hair and it moisturizes it a bit, so there’s that. It also has an interesting, citrus smell that’s slightly medicinal, but still pleasant. I may use this from time to time, but I don’t know if I’ll re-purchase it once it runs out.

Deva-Curl No-Comb Detangling Spray

I forgot to take a cutesy picture of this one, sorry

My hair is much more prone to tangling now than before, so I was hoping this stuff might help with tangles right out of the shower so I didn’t have to tug on it when it’s wet. For about a week, I sprayed it liberally into my hair right out of the shower, sprayed a little more on my hands, and worked through the tangles with my fingers. I think it might have helped with tangles a little bit, but ultimately I didn’t see too much difference between using this and not (nor did I see too much benefit to trying to work through the after-shower tangles with my fingers as opposed to a comb). I certainly don’t feel like my hair is coated with anything after using it, and have tried using a little more in the mornings when I re-wet my hair to style it, but it never did wow me with its effectiveness. It has a faint scent I’d describe as “lotion-y” for lack of a better word – not unpleasant or long-lasting. Even though it doesn’t feel like it’s coating my hair, it isn’t effective enough to justify applying it every time I shower and adding one more layer of product I’ve got to deal with later. That said, it didn’t have any negative effects on my hair that I could tell.

DevaCurl DevaFuser


I know, you guys. I know. Look at that thing.  But it looked so insane, I figured it must have the ability to do something fabulous to curly hair to justify how silly it looked, as well as how much it cost (I got it for $44 at an Ulta store, but found it later on Amazon for $25). The truth is, though, I don’t get near the amount of curl from using this as I do from my regular diffuser, which came as a free attachment for my hair dryer. I guess if I want more toned-down curls I can use this, but that’s not likely to happen. One decent use is that it does give me a little bit more lift and volume if I mash the “hand” right up against my head and aim some heat directly at the roots, and that is nice, so it isn’t a total loss. It fits awkwardly onto my hair dryer and occasionally pops off, however, so it’s a bit of a pain. Overall it’s much easier for me to use my normal diffuser – with that one I can use the highest heat setting and a low speed to give my curls the right amount of definition and spring.

Ugh – One Star

DevaCurl Set Up & Above Versatile Styler


This stuff claims to add volume, texture, hold, and definition to curls, and interestingly, it did all that for me while simultaneously making my hair look horrible. How this is possible I am still unsure, as you would think a product that did all those things would make curly hair look fabulous, but it also created more frizz than all the humidity in Texas could accomplish. The results of using this stuff were just…weird. I had some random tight, deadlock-y curls, and then acres of frizz between that curl and the next one. I was almost in Roseanne-Roseannadanna territory whenever I tried to use this, and I tried applying it both to wet and dry hair. I had curls all right, but zero hold, and it made my hair way too soft for its own good. I looked awful both days I tried this, plus it smells like molding clay and in the jar it looks just like a green Jell-o mold without the marshmallows (mmmm…marshmallows). Fail.

So that’s it for this round of my DevaCurl experiment. And yes, I did purchase all these products over the course of about two weeks, which is pretty impressive as I’m not usually a huge hair-products person; I tend to use the same stuff or products just like it that I get at the grocery store on my weekly trip and I’m happy. But what can I say, with the new hair I got curious. I’ve already talked enough about hair products for one day, so in another post, I’ll share with you the other DevaCurl products I’m currently testing – the No-Poo and Low-Poo Cleansers and Conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and a dry shampoo (that post is up now – you can read Part II here). I also have some non-DevaCurl products to share – It’s just a few more, in case you’re worried you’ll have to sit through another post as long-winded about hair products as this one. And you can go here if you want to read about the results of my no-shampoo experiment,  which may in fact render some of these less-useful products more useful as time goes by (although I don’t ever see that Set Up & Above working out).

*Everything I review in this post was purchased with my own money, and no one requested I write about these items. I never review products that are given to me for free – mostly because no one ever offers, but even if they did I wouldn’t do it. Just so you know. 

Stitch Fix Pics!

I got my latest Stitch Fix today and decided to take more detailed pics of the shipment so you could get an idea of what to expect if you ever sign up.

It’s a box – YEP.

There’s something about getting these shipments that’s just fun, like getting a birthday present every month – even if you’re someone who already has enough clothes as it is. They do have a nice presentation:


Your  box has five items, as I mentioned last time, and the items are geared to preferences you specify when you fill out a profile on the Stitch Fix website. Your selections are also made based on feedback you give the company after you receive a “fix” and tell them what you liked and didn’t like about what you received. Since this is my third shipment, the choices have gotten pretty decent.


Since I also have a close friend with a Stitch Fix profile, we’ve noticed we get the same items in our packages from time to time, but paired with different wardrobe suggestions to better match our profiles (our styles are completely different). This is one way they get more mileage out of the idea of a “fix” consisting of only five items; they make suggestions about how to wear each piece. I pretty much ignore this part of the shipment, but again, it’s a great way to present the clothing:


You try on the items, pick what you want to keep, then stick everything else into a prepaid shipping bag and drop it off at the nearest USPS mailbox; easy-peasy. If you keep everything, you get 25% off the entire order. There’s a $20 stylist fee for each fix, but you only get charged for that if you send the whole shipment back. If you keep even just one thing, you get to deduct the $20 from the total.

I even took a pic of the shipping bag; I am nothing if not thorough

As I mentioned last time, you can choose a budget for your shipments so the prices are within a comfortable range for your pocketbook. I started out with a low range and didn’t care for the pieces I received, so I upped it and was much happier with the second batch of clothes. My second fix was around $375 if I kept the whole thing (which I didn’t), this one was considerably lower at $219 (that’s with the 25% discount for keeping it all). Not sure why there was such a difference,  but I get the feeling Stitch Fix’s stock isn’t all that varied (as I said my friend and I are getting a lot of the same stuff in our boxes, just presented with different outfit ideas and often in different colors) so I guess they just do the best they can when it’s time to send your box out (you can be on a set schedule or request fixes at random times – I choose to get them monthly).


I’d actually requested no more jewelry after what I got in the first shipment (it was a really cheap-looking necklace), but as you can see, one showed up again. I chalk this up, again, to being a bit limited on what they can ship. I have no proof of that, it’s just my suspicion. Coming up with five things once a month can get difficult if you can’t throw a necklace in there every once in awhile. I ended up liking this one anyway, so I kept it.

I also kept the black pants they shipped me; they’re called the Emer High Waisted Cropped Trouser, and they have a strange feel to them, almost like ski pants. But even though they’re basically a stretch pant or legging in a thicker material, they’re actually kind of flattering, and I like them. The silk shell here (called the Lydie Crochet Detail Split Neck Silk Blouse) is the one thing I didn’t care for, but if I sent it back I’d lose my 25% off and the total for the items I kept would come to $214; by keeping it and getting the 25% the total came to $219. For only $5 difference in price, I figured I’d go ahead and keep it, see if I ever end up wearing it, or if not just give it someone else. I’m actually not a fan of wearing silk, though, so probably it  will end up in someone else’s closet eventually (and yes, I know I’m making some silly poses here, but accentuating the positives and de-emphasizing the negatives of one’s body for full-length portraits is a bit of a silly art, one I’ve perfected to the best of my ability even if it is a bit ridiculous):

The shoes are new too but are not from Stitch Fix. They don’t sell shoes.

Up next is a fabulous vest with an aztec print that I love. It’s called the Ashlie Graphic Knit Sleeveless Cardigan, and I admit I was excited about this item before I even opened the box. I’ve learned that as soon as your “fix” ships, you can go the website, check your profile, and see the receipt for all the items in the shipment. Then you can go to Google and type in the item names and find some of them. I found a lot of other bloggers who reported getting this piece in their shipments, so I knew what it was going to look like. But it’s even better in person. I’m also wearing the Adrianna Circle Bib Necklace here, and one of my own t-shirts. The shoes are the Hopewell moccasins I got from Free People a while back and mentioned in a previous post.

Had to make this outfit twirl a little

OK I had to throw this next outfit in here even though only the pants & necklace are from Stitch Fix. I wanted to show my fabulous new moto jacket, which is from Ann Taylor Loft of all places. Also, if you like that t-shirt, it’s called the Lani California Tunic; it’s nice and long and A-line and has a hi-lo effect that keeps it from being boring. I got it at a little local boutique, then decided I wanted more of them and found a few places online to buy them – you can find it here or here.

Pardon the goofy pose; who knows how I end up standing the way I do

As you can see, I’m going to get a lot of wear out of these pants even though I never would have tried them out on my own. I’ve mentioned it before, but that’s one of the things I like about Stitch Fix – that the process motivates me to try things I end up liking but never would have given a second glance in a store.

The shirt in this next one is from Stitch Fix; it’s called the Danes Ribbon Trim Tie Neck Top. The jeans were also from Ann Taylor Loft ( I can’t find them on their website anymore or I’d link them), and interestingly are some I normally would have ignored but tried on for the hell of it and ended up liking:


I’d like the jeans better if they were a darker wash, but they only came in this color and white (I bought the white too). The top is fabulous, and pretty much made for me. I’m not thrilled with the fabric, which isn’t as soft as I’d like, but overall it’s cute as hell and I love it.

Since I was taking photos, I decided to throw a leap into the mix. And while I was at it, I added my new purse into the shot (it’s a Coach I got on sale at Dillard’s last week – yeah, I’ve been shopping a lot lately. I think it’s all the home-repair stress):


I was too lazy to move furniture out of the way and roll out the backdrop, by the way, but hey, you can see the new carpet. It’s great to jump on. And yes, that’s a random dog toy or two at my feet. At least you know we keep them entertained.

Anyway, that’s the entire fix, and as I already said, I’m keeping the whole thing. I’ve got three days from receipt of the shipment to pay for it, and the opportunity to give more feedback when I do so the stylists can tailor my next shipment accordingly. Not sure why I felt the need to write about this process again, and am less sure why any of you should be interested in reading it, but here it is anyway!

Flower Trip

More flower macros! Today I decided to share some comparison photos as well; the first set shows the difference the FlashPipe made on the macros when I was focusing in really tight. Without using an external flash, such shots were too dark:


I’ve used the Speedlite on macros before, and it definitely helps, but because of all the weird angles I’m using to get the shot I want the light kind of bounces all over. With the FlashPipe I get a nice soft diffused light that’s much more even, and definitely brighter than taking the shot without any flash:


My next set of comparisons shows how using the RadLab plugin for Photoshop helps edit a SOOC photo into something more magical. Here’s the original shot:


And here’s the shot after I adjusted the contrast and used RadLab filters to brighten and enhance color and detail:


Big difference! So even if in the final shot you can’t tell how RadLab might have helped, it definitely does. Of course all this could be done without it, but for someone with limited Photoshop skills like myself the plugin sure makes things easier.

I then used Snapseed for final sharpening and to enhance color a little further, as I felt the yellow was a little blown out in the original shot (the downside of using the flash). So here’s the final version:


This next one is a bit similar to a shot I shared in Sunday’s post; but that one was taken without the Speedlite/FlashPipe combo while the one I’m sharing today used those two additions. So as a reminder and further comparison, here’s the shot I shared Sunday:


And here’s the same flower (different angle though) taken with the external flash and FlashPipe (as well as water spritzing):


Both are nice, but the effect is totally different. Again you can see how the color gets blown out a bit by the flash, even after all my edits (this is a final version, achieved using the RadLab filters and Snapseed).

And here’s my last one for today. Definitely a favorite – final version only:


More flowers later, I am sure. Another busy week ahead, and then next week I must start getting back to work at least once a week to prepare for the year. Enough time to do a full self-portrait set complete with costumery still eludes me, but I’ll get to it when I can.

Stitch Fix Stitch Pics

Several months ago, one of my friends showed up to work in this fabulous maxi dress, which was particularly notable because she’s someone who up until that point had never worn a long skirt in her life. I asked her what prompted her to buy such a thing and she told me her “Stitch Fix Stylist” sent it to her, and she loved it. Stitch Fix (if you sign up by clicking that link it gets me a referral credit, just FYI) is a company that’s all the rage right now; on their website, they take a profile of your personal style then send you “fixes” when you request them – you can request a scheduled monthly fix, or choose to get them more or less frequently. A fix is just a shipment of five wardrobe pieces, supposedly chosen based on how you answer initial questions about your style and then, as time goes on, also based on how you respond to the items in each shipment. You try everything on, decide what you want to keep, go pay for that stuff on the website and plop the rest of the clothes into a postage-paid mailer that you drop into any USPS mailbox, and that’s that.

It sounded pointless to me when I first heard about it, not being one who needs any help buying clothes; but after seeing my friend show up in three or four more fabulous outfits she got through the service I decided to give it a whirl. And one of the things I’ve appreciated about Stitch Fix so far is not how they zero in exactly on what I would love to buy for myself, but rather, the things they toss into the box that I never would have tried on had I come across them in a store. I think to get anything out of a service like this, you have to be willing to broaden your horizons – and be patient. My first shipment wasn’t all that great, and I only kept one of the five items, but I went to the site and gave very specific reasons why I didn’t like what I got, and my next fix was much better. Another thing I changed from my first fix to my second one – I upped my bottom line. You select a price range you’d like the clothes to stay within; I went for the cheapest level the first time out, and well, I got cheap stuff. So in my profile I bumped up what I was willing to spend, and between that and the feedback I gave the stylist, they really improved the second shipment. It was almost twice as expensive as the first one, but I kept three items instead of one.

So, I thought I’d let you know about the service now, because I’ve used them twice and found it enjoyable both times, as well as very little hassle. I also decided to snap some quick pics in the antique room I’ve mentioned before, just to see if it really would be a good place for photos now that’s it’s free of excess junkery. So, here you go – everything I’m wearing here is from my second “fix” and I kept all of it:

New clothes – with that just-out-of-the-bag wrinkled look

I’ve been looking for a kimono-style jacket that doesn’t cost a fortune for awhile, and although I really wanted a black one, I kept this one anyway. The tank underneath it is a nice staple I’ve also been trying to find – a sleeveless tank to wear under jackets that isn’t completely plain or too clingy.The jeans I did not need at all, and I never would have tried these on had I seen them in a store due to how “destroyed” the finish is, not to mention they are low-rise to the point of being obscene, but when I put them on I absolutely loved them – in spite of the fact that I have to wear very long tops with them due to the low-rise factor (plus, as you can see in the photo below, they photograph really well).

Still had the tags on everything when I took these as I was deciding what to keep

I think that shot shows the jeans and the tank much better, as well as the cool movement I can get out of the kimono. It’s hard to be overly impressed with five little pieces of clothing, I think, so the Stitch Fix stylist includes a printout with suggestions of how to wear each piece with other basics you might already have in your closet. Again, not really something I need or even pay attention to, but it helps generate more excitement about what might otherwise seem to be five random pieces of clothing – especially if they’re all rather basic, like mine were.

Here’s a shot of something I sent back, as well as another shot of the antique room (which is the real reason I’m sharing the photo):

Nothing like a top that makes stumpy legs look even stumpier

Um, yeah – this is why taking pictures of yourself in new clothes is a good idea. I thought I was going to keep this top until I saw the photos; it’s supposed to tie but I cannot stand things tied around my waist (I despise belts, too), so I thought I’d snip out the tie and wear it open as it is above. But it really doesn’t look good that way, and made me look frumpy. However, it’s the right idea for me, and I did like it a lot as far as the attitude of it goes. And by the way, that piano behind me belonged to my great-great grandparents.

As far as using this room for photos, I think the walls are really pretty but I’d use it more for portraits than full-body stuff for the most part. There’s a lot going on, and while my 17-40 is great at getting a whole lotta room into the shot, it keeps everything in such focus that it’s hard to know where to look, kind of. I do think with the 50mm lens and the framing on just the upper body, that wallpaper would make a beautiful background. And I also have that nice settee you can see in the other photos, as well as the piano, to use as props. The mirror behind the piano causes problems, as well as some huge pictures hung on other walls – but hopefully those could be taken down and put back up without much trouble. So, there you go. A little note about Stitch Fix, which just might be worth the hype, and a glimpse of the antique room I’m always talking about. You’re welcome.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about cost – you do pay a $20 stylist fee for each shipment, but it is deducted from the total of whatever you buy out of that fix. If you buy all five pieces in the shipment, you also get 25% off the entire order. So, worst case scenario would be that you keep nothing they send you, and you’re out twenty bucks. My first shipment was the one where I’d chosen the “low cost” option, and if I’d kept the entire shipment it would have been $187 (that’s with the 25% off). The cardigan I kept from that shipment was $48. For this shipment, if I’d kept everything, the total would have been $320 with the 25% off. The jeans were the most expensive item in this shipment at $128, then the kimono at $78, and the tank was $48. I know the jeans were pricey, but they look damn good on me, y’all.  Granted,I can’t gain an ounce or they won’t fit, but hey, exercise motivation (edited to add that the jeans actually stretched out perfectly and fit like a dream now!).

Fujifun – The Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S

Well, I did it again – I came across a review on Phoblographer about the Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S a few days ago, and wouldn’t you know I went out Wednesday afternoon and bought one.

Surprised? Of course you’re not.

There are several different models of these hipster-centric, cutesy mini versions of the old-school Instamatic cameras we all had back in the day.

Well, some of us still have them. 

I was at least smart enough to go with the cheapest version available, which is the 7S (I found it for $55 at Best Buy). It was released in 2010, and was upgraded with a Mini 8 a few years later (which you can find for around $75-$80 online). There is also a pretty fancy model that has a less child’s-toy look and more cool features – the 90 Neo Classic – but that one is a bit overpriced at $200 considering the added features don’t amount to much more manual control over how shots actually turn out.


The camera is plastic, the controls are simple and few, it’s powered by four AA batteries, and the flash is always gonna fire. In other words, aside from the rather space-agey form factor, this is your mama’s old-school Polaroid shrunk down and given a cheery paint job (white was all Best Buy had, but I really prefer the pastel options offered – especially the yellow).

Four light adjustments – Indoors, Cloudy, Fine, and Bright. Switch to one of the four, then hit the shutter. Yep.

Now, the camera produces images using this thing called film, so I had to buy some of that. And Best Buy only had one box of two film cartridges, with ten shots on each cartridge. So for $20 I got to take twenty shots – that’s right, $1 per shot. This is probably about the same cost Grandma paid for photos with her old Instamatic in the 80’s too, so I am OK with the expense. But, there sure was pressure to take a perfect shot every time, since once those film trays ran out, I was done for the day; my standards did lower considerably when I had no choice but to deem every shot acceptable or lose money. Sadly, I still had to take practice shots to learn how to use the thing, so I basically threw twenty bucks down the drain testing this little guy out.

The film pops out of the top, unlike Granny’s camera that spit the print out at the bottom.

The camera is a mini, so the prints are too – vertical in orientation, they’re half the size of photos from the original cameras, if I’m being generous. But that’s part of what makes the whole experience so damn cute.

Know what else makes it cute? Pets.

Now for what is not so cute: visual displacement, first of all. Having not shot non-digital since the 1990’s (and rarely having taken photos then), I forgot about the fact that what I see through the viewfinder is not actually what the camera lens is focusing on, because the two are not connected to each other. This is corrected on digital cameras, but here you have to remember to think about where the lens is pointing, and not what you’re seeing through the viewfinder. When you don’t remember this, you waste $20 of film for shots like this:

Yep, it’s an Instamatic picture of Simon chewing on an Instamatic picture of himself. Is that meta? 

When I saw that I’d managed to get my selfies framed properly but not any of my other shots, I realized what was going on. When I took selfies I aimed the lens squarely at my face instead of the viewfinder, and it finally made sense. Now, the fact that Simon looks like he is sitting on the edge of a giant pizza is the other not-cute thing: no real control over lighting and exposure or pretty much anything (and forget about autofocus), so the best laid plans might render a blown-out blurry poorly-framed photo regardless. In spite of what it’ll cost you, you do have to make a lot of mistakes to figure out how to best use this camera; for most of my first shots, let’s just say I did not use it to the best of its abilities and call it a day.

Instamatic picture of an Instamatic camera – that has to be meta, right?

Where I could see this little toy being useful is in social situations like family gatherings or, in my case, at the school where I work. I called it hipster-centric because I’m pretty sure a camera like this is a blast when bar-hopping, or doing whatever else it is hipsters do. Where this gets weird for me is when using this, I’ll be taking a bunch of photos that I immediately give away without any digital record of them. The way I got these photos was, believe it or not, to lie them down on a black blanket, ,take high-quality photos of them, and then process them – something I will not be doing again as it was a time-consuming PITA.

It did however lead to this, which I probably will do again.

But I love the idea of this camera in its own right, and I am interested by the completely different experience I can have shooting with it when I am in the right environment to do so. No thinking from the start how I will edit a photo or where I will share it, or what I will write about it on my blog. No taking numerous shots to get the ideal one I’ll process and perfect later. This is immediate, somewhat-crappy, just-for-the-fun-of-it photography, and I think the coolest part of it is that I’ll be giving most of it away. It feels free and friendly and completely without self-interest. And yeah, the photos I do take of myself are far from my usually closely-controlled idea of perfection.

See what happens when I aim the lens in the right place?

Much like the purchase of this camera brought back nostalgic memories for the Instamatic cameras of old (I had no idea we still owned one; my husband informed me of this and found it in a drawer) I think the Instax Minis create little memories on the spot; you snap the moment, you wait for it to unfold, then you send it out into the world, either by pinning it onto a bulletin board, sliding it into a wallet, or more likely, handing it to a friend and sending it on its way. No permanent file created, no pressure, nothing to deal with after the fact. It’s immediate and permanent at the same time, without the pressure to perfect it the way digital photography creates (at least for me). You do the best you can to preserve something, and then it’s done, one way or another. Not a bad occasional way for an obsessive-perfective photographer to spend an afternoon with a camera, no? There’s got to be something I can learn from it.

Like how to use Pixlr to spruce up a less-than-stellar photo? Oh wait, I knew how to do that already.

And speaking of that old Polaroid One-Stop 600, my curiosity about this whole instant film resurgence led to some research which revealed that film is still being made for those old cameras – at $25 for an 8-exposure pack, true, but still.  The film is out there, and I have one of these old cameras, and you know at some point I’m going to be buying some of that stuff.


Apparently the film for the old cameras takes a whopping thirty minutes for one photo to develop fully, but this is not the case for the new Fujifilm ones as my shots only took a few. But I must say that waiting for the photo to reveal itself inside that bright white square brought up major waves of nostalgia. And of course I had to wave them around as if that actually sped up the process (did that ever help?) which made me think of the Outkast song “Hey Ya” instructing everyone to “shake it like a Polaroid picture” and then I had it stuck in my head the rest of the day.

Remember the little window that told you how many shots you had left? Yep.

So I’ll be out there from time to time, using my little Instax 7S camera (unless I give in and buy one of the newer models), and I won’t be creating any digital files out of the results, and my followers on Flickr won’t know about it, and neither will you, blog readers. And maybe that’s how it should be – this little camera will be my own well-kept secret from the virtual world, known only to my real-life followers. Of which there are no more than a few, to be sure, but at $1 a photo that’s probably for the best.

Another Pixlr-ed version

Rebel Rebel – The Canon EOS SL1

First of all, Amazon Prime membership is a beast, y’all. I ordered the Canon SL1 Saturday night, I think, and even though it was a holiday weekend this thing arrived at the post office this morning. BOOM! Well worth the ninety-whatever dollars they’re going to charge me for my membership next year – any and everything I can order through Amazon Prime and get delivered to my doorstep in two days for “free” is worth it for me. Moving on.

It’s like my 7D had a baybeeee

This camera is small, y’all. I squealed like a silly girl who just found the baby shoe aisle at Nordstrom. It’s just so cute! And light as a feather compared to my 7D. It makes me happy.

Sorry for the crappy pictures, I’m pressed for time tonight

I’m not going to get to into the details of this camera, because anyone who’s really interested in it can read the loads of reviews that have already been written, and mostly I just want to share my first impressions. Although it’s almost half the width of my 7D (totally not mathematically provable) the LCD screen is the same size, which is awesome – and it’s also a touchscreen, which is a very nice added feature. I can shoot in RAW and in shutter-priority mode and set most of the manual controls just the way I want, but I do need to spend a lot more time playing around with it to get the most of what I want out of it. Color in particular was crappy in my test pics, and the focus was pretty slow. But I can work those issues out. It’s so small and light and is exactly what I was looking for to add to my gear collection right now. Did I mention that I am thrilled?! Because I am.

Test photo #1:


After charging  up the battery and panicking to find an SD card (one did not come with the camera – thank goodness I found a spare one that fit) I tossed on the new 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens I also bought to go with it – I also bought this off Amazon Saturday night and got it today. There’s a telephoto lens coming that is recommended for use with the camera too, but it came off eBay and isn’t moving through the delivery system quite as quickly (it has shipped though). The pancake lens is very compact (hence it’s name) which is probably going to be the only reason I keep it; it focused slowly, and while the photos it took were fine and I got some nice bokeh out of it, it wasn’t significantly lighter in weight than my 50mm f/1.4 which took better pictures. Plus, it’s a prime lens and to get this close to Simon at that focal length, I had to get right up on him – I prefer a little more zoom. Still, it can easily fit into a pocket and is incredibly unobtrusive on the camera, and since it was only $160 I’m going to keep it for those reasons,

The 40mm compared to the 50mm, which isn’t a long lens by any stretch of the imagination either. 

The 50mm definitely takes a better photo though – plus it’s so much faster and gets so much more light into the shots. After comparing the two, I started the process of filling out a return request to Amazon for the 40mm, but then I thought about the compact factor and the convenience of the small size and decided what the hell, I’ll keep it around. It practically disappears onto the camera body (too lazy to take more phone pics, so I’ll share some other’s photos of it now – links to photos in captions):

The SL1 with the pancake lens

The SL1 with a 50mm lens

However, the color was off even with the 50mm, and was pretty drab. I think I can play with the settings to improve vibrancy, and I am guessing the auto white balance on the SL1 just isn’t as good as it is on the 7D (I found white balance to be a problem with my last Canon Rebel, too). I’ll have to remember to use my ExpoDisc and custom white balance when I can, because the tones were pretty awful with both lenses. Here’s Simon again, this time taken with the 50mm on the SL1:

More depth and light, still crummy color

I am pleased that I took both photos without the Speedlite, as putting that on this camera would sorely defeat the purpose of owning it. The 50mm wins again in this regard, as it’s so dang fast I can shoot in some pretty low light without having to up the exposure compensation too much. I guess if I ever decide to spend $1600 on a lens, I should probably consider upgrading my mid-level 50mm I now own,  but I digress.

Overall I am freaking thrilled with this little thing. I am sure the shorter battery life is going to upset me, and I’m going to find more flaws as I work with it more (I barely had time tonight to get it out of the box, charge up the battery, and snap about 15 photos – much more time will be spent with this once the weekend arrives) but knowing Canons the way I do by now, and having the amount of compatible gear I do, I can slip this little baby into the rotation easily and am going to love having it around. The SL1 is not the best choice for everyone, but it’s perfect for me as someone who just wanted to add something light and portable while retaining the benefits of a DSLR. I don’t think it would be a bad little first DSLR either – I’d just get the cheap 50mm lens you can pick up for about a hundred bucks and forgo the kit lens.

Can’t wait to see how the telephoto fits into all this. I know it’s gonna add weight, and it won’t be as sharp as the L-series telephoto I’m used to, but I think it’s going to be another good addition to this little baby, and one I can use at school. It’s an f/4, so that might hold me back in low light (although that is still considered a fast lens), but it’ll be great for outdoor shots which is usually where I use telephoto lenses anyway. More to come!

Balancing Act – The ExpoDisc

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I’d purchased a new toy to help me out with white balance when shooting – it’s called an ExpoDisc, and it arrived this afternoon. Since my new medication doesn’t make me feel anywhere near as awful as the last one (it makes me feel drowsy for about 3 hours after I take it, but that’s it) I was able to try this little gadget out and see if it really is as handy as people say.  So far so good – it’s not all that awkward to use, although it does involve quite a few steps to get all the settings right on the camera, which isn’t useful when shooting moving subjects or quick, candid shots, but it can be really helpful for studio work or situations where the light source isn’t shifting constantly.


White balance has always been a thorn in my side, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to learn about this thing. At full retail it’s about $70, but I found a used one on eBay for $40 – it isn’t the newest model, but after reading over the differences between the updated ExpoDisc and the old one, I didn’t see any reason to spend the extra $30 to get it. This one is in fine condition, so all around it was good buy.

For most casual photographers, the Auto white balance setting is what they use as it’s the setting the camera selects unless you go in and change it – and it does the best it can, but once you start getting picky about the color in your shots it’s definitely has it’s limitations. With my Canon 7D I’ve used either the Auto, Daylight, or Fluorescent settings, depending on my mood and the situation.  But especially when taking people shots, there have been so many times when the skin tones come out too green or yellow, and even though the issue can be adjusted when processing, I never can tell if I’ve gotten it right. And sometimes, no matter what I do, I can’t get the yellow or green cast from the subject’s skin, or if I do it wrecks the color somewhere else in the shot – and for someone who uses as much color as I like to use, that gets really annoying. So to have a tool like this in my bag that can adjust the white balance for me is a real godsend.

Differences in white balance can be subtle, but the right balance can make a huge difference in the overall look of a shot. Take these comparison shots, for example (presented to you without makeup,  because I was a little under the weather today):

I did nothing to the color in either one of these shots so you could see the effect of the ExpoDisc, but I did use Photoshop to edit out my undereye wrinkles and dark circles – I’m not gonna lie

Now, if you just saw shot #1 without ever seeing #2 alongside of it, you might think it was just fine, but clearly shot #2 is the better one. You can really tell when looking at the white t-shirt just how much better the tones are there. And all I had to do was put the ExpoDisc over my lens (the Disc comes in a few different sizes, but I just got the 77mm one and hold it over my lens rather than worrying with trying to fit in on before using it), aim my camera at the light source and take photo of it (in this case, the open window opposite me was my light source). Then I “set” that photo as the custom white balance for the shot (at the end of this post, I’ll embed the video I watched on YouTube that walked me through the steps).

I really wanted to get a few pics of the pets for a comparison, but it was hard to do when I kept having to take a shot with one setting (custom) then go in and switch that setting (back to auto) and then HOPE that the animal in question was still in a position even close to where they were in the first shot, much less hadn’t left the vicinity entirely. I finally managed to get a decent one of Sprocket showing the two white balance settings (of course it would be Sprocket who cooperates; he’s such a genial  model):

OK, so he did turn his head, but still, not bad for a dog

In both of the shots above, you can see how the indoor lighting tended to skew tones yellow, and the ExpoDisc corrected that problem. Outdoors had the opposite problem – the Auto setting cooled tones down considerably, and the ExpoDisc warmed them back up:

Pretty much everything in our yard is dead right now due to Tuesday’s freeze, so there wasn’t much worth shooting outside beyond the flowers on this plant, whatever it is. 

Told you there wasn’t much to photograph outside. And the blinds are pulled up because when they’re not, Simon smashes his way through them anyway. Also we did not have a handle attached to him for easier lifting; that’s one of his toys he ignores in favor of smashing his way through the blinds. 

Overall this is another piece of equipment with which I’m pretty pleased. And finding it for cheap always adds to my level of happiness! I hope sharing this sort of information is interesting and useful to someone, as I really enjoy writing these posts. As I’ve said a million times before, one of the reasons I never get bored with photography is that there’s always something new to learn. And as promised, here’s the YouTube video that I used to help me get mine working properly. It was pretty easy; just watched the video once then set to work.

Objects of My Reflection

After getting my nails done and picking up lunch, I decided to play outside with my new light reflector for a little while to see how it could help me in natural light:

Photo Feb 28, 8 27 06 PM
The hardest part of using this thing is getting it back into its bag.

The first time I took it out of its carrying case Friday night, it uncoiled and popped me in the face. It was not an auspicious beginning. However, upon taking it outside and playing around with the different surfaces, I discovered it was pretty easy to use. The reflector has five different colors – black to block harsh light, white to lightly reflect it onto the subject, silver for stronger cool light, gold for warm light, and translucent to soften it; the reflector itself is translucent, and there is a reversible cover that zips over it, with two colors per side. The only downsides to this one are that it’s difficult to maneuver without assistance, and the gold surface is on the same side as the white one. I’d much rather have the silver and white on the same side as those are the two I will use most frequently; as it is I have to unzip the cover and flip it over every time I want to switch from silver to white. Since this one was only $17, I may just buy another one that only has white and silver to make that easier. Can’t hurt to have two anyway.

Instead of going into the backyard and shooting in front of the same old plant, I took the camera (with my new 50mm lens attached) into our atrium and shot against the brick wall there. I know, I really jazzed things up this time, didn’t I? And true to my resolution in yesterday’s post, I didn’t get all dolled up for reflector testing; I just went outside in my plain old clothes with my plain old face and my plain old hair. For most of the shots I didn’t even remove my glasses. It felt weird, but it sure was easy.

In this first collage, I took a portrait with no reflectors for the left panel. Then on the ride side, I am holding the translucent surface over my head, to soften and direct the sunlight. The atrium is pretty shaded and although it was blue and sunny outside there were a lot of clouds passing over, so I wasn’t in constant direct sunlight, and there were a lot of shadows:

I am incapable of taking the same pose twice, so there are always variations in how I’m standing, which ruins the comparison a bit. But you get the idea.

Also true to form for me, I was switching around what surface I used to reflect light, and then occasionally taking pictures without a reflector for comparison, but since I didn’t keep track of when I used what I couldn’t remember what I was using in the shots when I processed them later. So I’m basically guessing. You know me, always a stickler for details! Anyway, I made my best guesses for this next collage:

You’ve probably noticed that’s the same “no reflector” shot from the previous collage. Yep.

I’d read that most photographers don’t care for the uber-warmth of a gold reflector and don’t use it often, if at all, which is why I wish mine wasn’t attached to the white surface. But I can see where it could come in handy. Also, in these shots, I was holding the reflector a little too close to my face which made the light a little too bright – especially noticeable in the gold one. Oh, and I processed these shots using as little editing as possible; they are practically SOOC (Straight Out of the Camera), which is NOT likely to happen again anytime soon, so drink it in people.

My last collage was using the white reflector, which is my favorite as the light is softer than the silver, and I held it at different angles just for the hell of it:


Man, without all my usual makeup and hair on, I gotta say, I am really looking my age. It’s not a bad thing to look 45, it’s just…different. I still don’t look in the mirror and think hey, that right there is a 45-year-old woman, but I’m getting there (I’m also not a 45-year-old woman, I’m 44,  but I always tell myself and other people that I’m a year older – that way when I really am a year older and tempted to feel depressed about it, I can remind myself that I’m just now the age I’ve been telling everyone I was all year. Trust me, in my mind this makes perfect sense). And dammit my hair is flat. Wait – isn’t this post supposed to be about reflectors? Let’s get back to it then:

This photo is not SOOC. Deal with it.

I think in that one I’m using the white reflector, but it could have been the silver; unfortunately I can’t remember. Mostly I liked how my hair looked, so vanity compelled me to process the shot. I also liked my hair in the next one, which was one of the photos taken with no reflector, so I converted it to black and white to make up for it.

So basically this photo has nothing to do with reflectors, except that I took it at the same time I took all the other pictures shared here that used reflectors. Moving on.

Shooting in the atrium also provided me a nice green leafy background to test out bokeh on the 50mm when I turned the camera in the other direction, which went swimmingly when combined with whatever reflector I was using in this pic (white? silver? who can say.):


I posted this picture on Facebook and everyone went bonkers, mostly because they’ve never seen a truly normal photo of me. Very few people had the slightest idea what my new, longer hair even looked like. Turns out that after so long of constantly presenting one’s self in bizarre makeup and wigs, the most radical thing you can do is show up somewhere looking normal – a lesson Lady Gaga seems to have kinda learned lately, but without taking the arrogance and self-importance down a notch or two to complete the transformation. And no, that shot is so not SOOC either. Thanks Photoshop for ridding me of my under-eye wrinkles.

And as always, I’ve got to share a Pixlr-ed shot.